Martyr Skeletons Dressed in Jewels “Catacomb Saints”

The story of the saints in the catacombs of Northern Europe is a peculiar story. It is rooted in the crisis of faith after the Reformation, prompting people to dramatically return to decorative materialism in the practice of worship.

The jeweled skeletons were discovered in catacombs under Rome in 1578 and given as replacements to churches that had lost their saint relics during the Reformation in the idea that they were Christian martyrs. However, for the most part, their identities were unknown.

The receiving churches subsequently spent years lavishing diamonds and gold clothing on the respected skeleton strangers, even filling their eye sockets and sometimes decorating their teeth with finery.

However, when the Enlightenment arrived, they were rather humiliating because of the huge amount of money and luxury they symbolized, and many were hidden away or vanished.

On May 31, 1578, vineyard workers in Rome discovered a passage leading to an extensive network of long-forgotten catacombs below Via Salaria. The Coemeterium Jordanorum (Jordanian Cemetery) and the surrounding catacombs were early Christian burial grounds, dating back to between the 1st and 5th centuries AD.

The story of the saints in the catacombs of Northern Europe is a peculiar story. It is rooted in the crisis of faith after the Reformation, prompting people to dramatically return to decorative materialism in the practice of worship.

The jeweled skeletons were discovered in catacombs under Rome in 1578 and given as replacements to churches that had lost their saint relics during the Reformation in the idea that they were Christian martyrs. However, for the most part, their identities were unknown.

Given the time, finances, and commitment required to build the saints, it is sad to contemplate how few have survived to the present day. During the nineteenth century, many were stripped of their jewels and hidden or destroyed since they were deemed morbid a.

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